Regular readers know I track personal spending with the focus of a scientist at CERN, not for Nobel glory, but for insights that add extra oomph to my budget. In 2013, I needed new clothes or costly alterations, an expensive reward for losing weight. I was relieved not to have to do it again (in either direction) in 2014.
You are probably more interested in the mistakes than the superstars, no? In descending order of egregiousness, here are the top three blunders:
Walk of shame
Mistake #1: A skirt for work... but I don't.
A skirt, bought while on a trip to Toronto, at a boutique I frequented when I worked full time. I'm tall, so can wear mid-calf length, but now I don't wear skirts for the few occasions when I still work, and this one requires dry cleaning. I was overcome by nostalgia for clothes I wore five or ten years ago.
You can see the tag, upper left, still on. I am cringing with embarrassment, but if this saves somebody a couple of hundred bucks, I'm posting it and then it will be sent to a friend.
Mistake #2: The sheddy sweater
A grey wool Donegal-tweed J. Crew sweater got compliments but shed copiously on everything, but especially black pants, which looked positively furry, and the lining of every coat. The wool blend does not delight, and how many times do we have to learn that? It was on sale, but I ended up buying another grey sweater (described below), so it returned poor value.
Mistake #3: One-season shoes
Aubergine suede and black leather Chie Mihara shoes, about $160 on sale last July, reduced from $400. But in fall I forgot about them and by snowy winter I wear slippers at home, boots outdoors, and carry lighter-weight shoes to friends' homes. Perhaps these extremely
well-made shoes might get their fall wear, come next September. Still, a one-season pair is a mistake.
Stars: From the unexciting to unexpected
1. Grey cashmere v-neck
Three months after buying the J. Crew shedder, I bought this cashmere v-neck. I shot it in full boringness, below, because that's how it looked in the shop. It's so easy to disqualify these unassuming workhorses, and yet, the plainest piece invites us to truly use our accessories. Cashmere season is seven or more months long in northeastern Canada so colours beyond the deep-darks are useful and mood-elevating. Also feels infinitely better against skin.
Yesterday, I wore it with fancy-coloured Tahitian baroques, vintage emerald and diamond pin, antique diamond lavalière, and (not shown) a wide orange, grey and pink enamel cuff with Indian motif.
2. Vintage Italian mohair coat
On a mid-December shopping expedition with a girlfriend, I snuggled into the supple, light warmth of the Tina Turk mohair coat at left.
The muted plaid would relieve my solely black winter coats, from leather to duffle to puffer. While she tried on dresses for a party, I debated. Girlfriend said, "Buy", but I thought that coat was insufficient for our frigid winter winds, so, at over $800, I called it an expensive 'extra' and resisted.
Days later I dropped by a vintage store, checking for a gift a son wanted to give, and found this secondhand Italian mohair coat, for $45.
I brushed the surface gently to remove minor mats, reviving its luxurious loft, and there was no other sign of wear. I've worn it on days when a puffer is too heavy, and come late winter, when a raincoat is still too light, it will be at hand.
For the last several years, I had visited vintage stores only to accompany young relatives and visitors. Now I see it pays to look, especially if I have an article in mind; I just might hit a lucky strike.
3. 2014's big spend: jewelry renos
I've described how a talented jeweler restyled twenty-year-old emerald earrings into two new pairs and, later in the year, made a pearl/moonstone pendant to update a gold chain.
The total cost was about $2,000 (my contribution of some scrap gold lowered the cost.) I feel especially satisfied when I check prices for new jewelery of comparable quality.
Is my affinity for such projects why I receive more mail about jewelry renos than buying clothes?
Reviewing all the buys, I give myself C+, a long way from the A I shot for. Dammit, that skirt! Even though I've about squashed the sale/special offer bug, when oh when will I learn to buy (only) clothes for my present life, not my old one?
Do you analyze your buys? What have you learned in the past year or so?